Gold Coast business leaders’ calls for the next stage of light rail

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Gold Coast business leaders want the re-elected Morrison Government to “put its money where its mouth is” on stalled light rail and a tourism boost.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Annaliese Battista, who expressed surprise during the election at a lack of Federal presence and support in the city, is unimpressed by the tram stall.

She said it was vital the trade, infrastructure and tourism ministries worked closely and vital projects like Coast light rail were prioritised.

“The cost shifting and discussions between Feds and State about who is going to pay is a stalling tactic and means these vital infrastructure projects get delayed for years,” Ms Battista said.

“Bear in mind the planning, development and land acquisition for those sort of things take years. With that kind of ping pong match it means projects get strangled in red tape.

“Nobody wins, the community doesn’t, the tourism sector doesn’t and the economy doesn’t progress.

“The City of Gold Coast is most proactive and it would be really great to get local members at Federal level behind such vital infrastructure.”

The Morrison Government has pledged $112 million for light rail to get to Burleigh. State Government says it is $157m short.

McPherson MP Karen Andrews, a day after the election, said tourism was a priority for Federal Government which is boosting Tourism Australia funding by $5m to $175m.

Ms Battista gave that a spray: “I don’t think $5m is going to make much of a dent in Australia’s competitiveness internationally, bearing in mind Tourism Australia’s main remit is to get brand Australia traction internationally.

“They have tough competition. Government, especially at the Federal level, needs to get serious about its investment,” Mr Hall said.

“You have to support tourism branding with sector development and infrastructure so no I don’t think $5m is going to make much of a difference. If you look what CPI is you will probably find a bit of a correlation.”

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall is joining her to call on the Federal purse string holders to reward Coast voters with a funding boost to get light rail to Burleigh.

“Queensland, and the Gold Coast have shown their support for Mr Morrison’s policies and it is now time to start delivering on those promises.’

“We especially want the Federal Government to take the lead in resolving the dispute with State Government over funding for both the upgrade of the M1 motorway and Stage 3 of the light rail.

“Both are vital for the economic health of the Gold Coast in the short-term. Now is time for action instead of talking.”

Mr Hall said the chamber was concerned by Ms Andrews saying the third stage could be rescoped: “The whole point of Stage 3 is to connect the business precinct of Burleigh to Broadbeach, Surfers, Southport and north to Helensvale and heavy rail,” he said. “Her suggestion to reduce the length of the proposed extension by 700m is a step in the wrong direction.”

Originally published via The Gold Coast

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